Archive for May, 2010

I thought I would share this week declaring May 23rd through May 29th to be National Hurricane Week by proclamation of President Barak Hussein Obama. In light of the fact that hurricanes continue to be our most pressing recurring disaster issues I have also put up a new widget called “Atlantic Hurricane Notes” and will be sharing the position and stats on as many Atlantic storms as I can this season. Invest 90 is off to a good start, but it isn’t expected at this time to cause much of an impact upon the US coastline, at least as of this time.

See more of the hurricane news by going to www.wunderground.com. I’ll be having more on hurricanes and hurricane preparedness on my show this Wednesday, 26 May at08:30 AM EST www.blogtalkradio.com/survivingthetimes.

May 24, 2010

No.: HQ-10-110

Contact: FEMA News Desk 202-646-3272

News Release

FEMA ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE MARKS THE BEGINNING OF NATIONAL HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS WEEK

WASHINGTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are partnering during National Hurricane Preparedness Week to share valuable hurricane preparedness information.  FEMA continues to work with state, local, tribal, federal and private sector partners to increase preparedness and coordinate response and recovery in the case of a hurricane or disaster.  FEMA also urges Americans to use this week as an annual reminder to assess their personal readiness to respond to emergencies.

President Obama recently designated May 23-29, 2010, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and called upon all Americans, especially those in hurricane prone areas, to learn more about protecting themselves against hurricanes and to work together to respond to them.

The Presidential Proclamation is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-proclamation-national-hurricane-preparedness-week.

“We never know where the next hurricane or disaster will strike, but we know that the more we do to prepare now, the better the outcome will be,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  “FEMA will continue to work with our private sector, local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure that we are prepared, but it is also important that all Americans take the necessary steps now- like developing a family disaster plan – before a hurricane or disaster strikes.”

“Regardless of the number of storms that may form this season, make your preparation plans with the idea that is the year you will be struck,” said Bill Read, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Everyone, including those living outside of hurricane-risk areas, should check personal preparations such as emergency kit supplies, note messages from local emergency officials, and rehearse emergency evacuation routes.

Important items to have ready in case of an emergency include a battery-powered radio (like a NOAA Weather Radio), flashlight, extra batteries, medicines, non-perishable food, hand-operated can opener, utility knife and first aid supplies. Copy and store your important documents in a waterproof bag.  These may include medical records, contracts, property deeds, leases, banking records, insurance records and birth certificates.

This is the time to consider potential needs of everyone in the household during an emergency. If your household includes a person with a disability, special steps to assist them may be necessary and should be considered now.

Pets also require special handling. They may become agitated during the onset of a storm, so a pet carrier is a must for safe travel.  Pet owners should research pet boarding facilities now within a certain radius of where you may evacuate, since animals may not be welcome in all shelters or hotels.  

Take steps now to purchase a flood insurance policy. Not only are homes and businesses in hurricane-prone states at risk for flood, but inland flooding is common in nearby states.  To assess flood risk for your home or find a local agent selling national flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call toll-free at 1-888-379-9531.

FEMA continues to support the coordinated federal response to the BP oil spill, and this season’s hurricane planning has involved consideration of the effects that the BP oil spill could have on the response capabilities and recovery scenarios. 

The Atlantic and Central Pacific Hurricane Season runs from June 1-November 30. The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season started on May 15. 

For more preparedness information, please visit www.Ready.gov

For information about National Hurricane Preparedness Week, visit http://www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/hu_season10.shtm

The Presidential Proclamation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-proclamation-national-hurricane-preparedness-week.

I’ve been asked several times for an opinion on survival guns. What is the best gun to have? How many should you have? What caliber? And so on. What this and what that, but people seem to miss an important point when thinking about survival and guns. First of all, let me say that I am neither a gun nut, nor an expert, so my opinion is simply a thought based upon the sum of my gun knowledge. Which really isn’t very great.

To start with, we must first differentiate between a gun for survival and a gun for defense. Some guns can be used for both, but not all of them can, or rather, should be. And you should always bear in mind that while any tool that serves multiple functions may be adequate for those many functions, it serves none of them as well as a tool dedicated to that one function. Just like a pocket multi tool. So we have to look at guns for survival, and guns for defense. Then we have to break down the different categories even further into the differing qualities each presents. For instance, you can use a handgun for defense, and for hunting, but which does it do best?

You have rifles and shotguns. Then there are loads for high power caliber that can hit and kill a target easily at over a thousand yards. But they’re useless when an intruder is in your home. So there are many variables to consider. Urban settings will require a different weapon than somebody who lives in the woods far from large numbers of people. If you’ve the money, then you can buy several and have multiple weapons at hand for any contingency. But most people do not have the resources to accumulate a virtual armory that would cover any possible need. So they have to limit their choices to a couple or so guns, in many cases inexpensive ones at that.

My idea of a survival arsenal is to have as few guns as possible, and if possible ones that can share ammunition. The 22LR caliber is a very popular and easily obtainable round. You can have a rifle for hunting small game, and a pistol as well for defense. Having been in existence for over 100 years, the 22LR remains the most widely available round in the world. Semi auto pistols and revolvers alike take it with good results along with the scores of rifle choices on the market. There is even a 22 shot load for 22 caliber shotguns. While it is unlikely to blow an attackers head clean off at the neck like Clint Eastwood’s favored sidearm would, it still can be a lethal round nonetheless.

These guns can be used for hunting small game and rodents, and possibly for smaller specimens of larger game as well. The smaller profile of the rifles makes them easier to use inside a building when under attack as well. And the pistols are light enough that even well trained responsible children can control the firearm while shooting. I remember that over 30 years ago I could purchase a brick of 500 rounds for under five dollars, although the price is much higher today. Now you can expect to pay around $50.00 for a brick of 500. Sad picture of the times we live in, isn’t it?

There is one other piece I would have in a survival arsenal, and that is a 12 gauge shotgun, with an interchangeable rifled barrel. 12 gauge loads are easily obtainable as well, and with a rifled barrel you can also fire slugs for hunting bigger game such as deer and bear. With a shorter barrel it makes an ideal defense weapon in an enclosed environment, and there is less fear of a round penetrating a wall and hitting an innocent person in another room, such as one of your children.

The Remington 870 is a popular model, and is low priced as well. With a little gun savvy you can fit it out to be a fine defensive piece as well as using it for hunting.

So, to make it a quick summary, my budget survival armory would consist of but three pieces, plus accessories. And a supply of repair parts. A 22LR rifle, and a 22LR pistol. And don’t forget to add the scopes for rifle and shotgun, along with any other add-ons you think necessary. Also, make sure you have stockpiled plenty of ammunition for them as well. I would suggest at least ten bricks of 22LR and 4 to 5 hundred rounds of various loads for your shotgun. These suggestions are a bare minimum, you’d probably want to have much more for the long haul as there will be no place to obtain this stuff after the meltdown. I would actually feel comfortable with 20 bricks of 22LR hanging around. That’s 10,000 rounds that’ll fit in a smallish trunk or tote bin.

Not only that, I would also have a stock of commonly used rounds in other calibers as well to use for bartering after cash and credit cards are gone. One cannot afford to be too careful when planning for the coming times. And always remember the old adage, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 30-30 is a popular round where I’m from, but do some research and figure out what works best in your neck of the woods.

A lot of readers may not realize it, but the preparedness movement is actually a worldwide movement, with followers from all over the globe it seems. YouTube boasts of a good charge of self made videos from both sides of the pond and there are a growing, and seemingly endless number of blogs and forums dealing with all things survival today. Over thirty years ago when I first became interested in all things survival there wasn’t even an internet to connect to people with, and things sure have changed a lot over the years. It used to be that getting ready to survive the coming times meant having a closet full of Spam and toilet paper.

Today we have and endless array of tools gadgets and gizmos, food that can stay fresh for thirty years or more and even water that comes in little foil pouches. And we have opinions as well. But not like there used to be. Gone are the days when survivalism meant be ready to get back to civilization after capsizing your canoe on that remote mountain lake. Today, preparedness means being ready for the coming times, whatever they may bring.

Depending upon where you come from you may have different opinions on how to survive a situation, how to get by and come out on top. If you come from a city, then you are probably thinking about tribal survival in your own little conclave, snuggled into an industrial block. If you live in the country you’re probably thinking about making sure you have plenty of heirloom seed on hand. Live on the coast? Then you may be dreaming of that boat you can set sail on and survive on the sea. Mountain people are thinking of waiting out the storm hunkered down in the backwoods somewhere. Whatever community you come from, you have a different scheme for surviving the coming times. Some will work and be a great success; other plans will be a devastating failure.

But how can we know whether our plan will be successful, or be a plan that leaves us clutched in the talons of the beastly times to come? Beats me, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to planning the future.

In looking at some of the material out there from both sides of the great pond I find that there is a definite difference in attitudes and supposed outcomes of what may come to past. Take the old firepower question, for instance. Over here in the US almost everyone plans on surviving the coming times with a firearm at hand. Full scale war seems to be expected by all. But in other countries firearms rarely enter the planning stages. Why is that? It’s because we have a different relationship with firearms than people in mainly socialized countries have. They generally can’t have them, so they have learned to live without them, and as such firearms never enter the discussion, for the most part. Will we need them? I’m counting on the need to have them, for many reasons. Those that have them will be far more victorious than those that don’t.

One thing that we can count on for sure though, is that everyone, whether here in the US, or some other country like Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France or any other country will need to address the same basic needs, no matter the country or environment. We all need water, we all need food, we all need medical care, we all need to you know what in a bucket, and we all need security. And that’s really what we should all be concentrating on. The common goals of a disparate community of survivalists are all the same, no matter what your opinion is of the situation.

There are many reasons to want to be prepared, and like it or not, almost all of them revolve around or are based upon the world’s geopolitical situation. Conspiracies abound and the developing one world government lends fire to the drive to prepare for the coming times. The next few years will not be pleasant ones as the world continues to slide further and further into financial disarray. The economy is not improving, despite what the main stream media wants you to believe. Governments around the world are getting bigger, and seizing more power while subjugating their citizens to an increasingly suppressive world.

There are many suggestions posited as to what we will be facing, but most of them, actually all of them but one will one day be shown true or false. Who has the right knowledge of the coming times? Who will be correct prophet of the coming times? Time will tell, but I for one intend to waste none of it chasing after false prophecies.

The world of preparedness is a big world, with lots of different people and ideas. But we all have the same common goals.

One of the many hot topics today in the world of survival is the aspects of creating a cache and developing a location you can bug out to when the going gets gone. I’ve already posted on the lowly cache in Your Survival Cache back in December, and I am planning on going into the issue in more depth as well. But while I heartily recommend that you develop a survival homestead right where you live, it may not always be possible to shelter in place for the long haul. For instance, if you happen to live in a place subject to excessive fallout from a nuclear attack, you certainly won’t be hanging around for long.

So what do we do in a situation where you need to leave your safe and snug survival homestead with all of its supplies and equipment? You simply roll out plan two and escape to your retreat number two. This sort of location should not be a cookie cutter of your current home, or planned home, but it should be an adequate enough place to allow you to survive in relative safety and comfort.

So what do you want to be on the lookout for when you get around to finding or developing your hidey hole in the boonies? First of all, you hidey hole doesn’t actually have to be found out in the way-back woods and mountains. It merely needs to be a location that provides several necessities. The primary need in this case will be safety or security. If it gets to the point where you’ve had to abandon all of your carefully assembled supplies and long term storage food you’ll know that you are now on the run and you’d rather not be found. The alternative if it gets to this point is to surrender yourself to the FEMA camps for interment, or as they call it, relocation for your safety and well being.

You could conceivably create a hidey hole in the middle of Manhattan, although I seriously discourage the thought of doing so. An office in a closed down or abandoned high rise or perhaps an abandoned industrial facility are a couple of potential locations. There are some problems extant with this plan, so be careful as you go. The primary reason for a secondary retreat, as I said, would be security. You’ll need to make sure you have an excellent range of view for incoming unfriendlies. Then you’ll need at least one, preferably more secondary routes of egress for escape purposes when they do come for you. It would be nice to believe that you could stay safe and secure in an urban environment, but you can’t. Eventually someone will find you out, and come for you. It may be the government or it may be the Zombie looters, but you will be found out.

A better choice would be a rural location that is near clean water, and lots of foliage made up of edible wild foods. This location is best situated in an elevated location such as the side of a mountain. Stay off the top as the profile you create by living on a mountain top will be easily located by those who know what to look for. The southern or southwestern slopes are better for the exposure they provide to the sun, which will give you light and warmth. A bonus to living on the side of a mountain is that warm air rises, and along with it any odors that may be present. For instance, if a patrol has stopped or encamped below you, you will be able to smell the exhaust from the motors, as well as any cooking smells.

They may not have seen you as yet, and if this is so, you’ll be able to quietly vacate the premises and wait them out without danger. However, there are also some drawbacks to planting yourself on a mountainside. For one, any fires you make will give off readily seen smoke from great distances. Some of this can be alleviated by only making a fire in a rainstorm to keep the smoke low and diluted from the rainclouds. Another drawback is the fact that any artificial light you create will also stick out like a sore thumb. Whatever you construct for a shelter will need to be made so as to provide total obfuscation of any light source.

Place no windows in your shelter, and make sure that you have either an offset doorway, or else a double set of doors to prevent any release of artificial light. Smoking should also be limited for this reason. During the daytime isn’t such a problem, but the flick of a Bic in the dark hours of the night is a dead giveaway. I’ve read that during the Viet Nam war snipers from the Communist north would lie in wait for some idiot grunt to give in to his smoking habit for this reason.

You should be able to have a long field of view from your secondary, especially a view of any roadways that may be utilized by patrols. A low profile to whatever type of shelter you build will be an advantage. I would suggest you try to make your structure along the lines of the olden day’s logger cabins that could be found in the northern tier states such as Maine and Michigan. These were low cabins with a double entryway to keep the warmth in and the cold out.

This picture of an old northern Maine lumber camp should give you an idea of what to shoot for. Build as much as you can from immediately available, local building materials, and as a suggestion, try your hand at installing a bough roof covering to help camouflage your camp from the air. Also, don’t trim the trees away from your building. The limbs and foliage will help to hide your little camp. And remember that this is all a secondary retreat is, a camp. You may have to turn it into a long term retreat should whatever disaster befall you become a permanent situation, so bear that in mind as well. If that is the case I doubt as the security issues would be as great as the food and water issues.,

That being the case, this is where a close by water supply such as a spring or brook will come in handy. And part of your emergency preparedness planning should also include training yourself to recognize local foods by way of the wild plants you may find near your retreat. In the long term it would also be helpful if you were to learn how to take these food sources and learn how to cultivate them for recurring crops, year after year.

These are just a few tips on secondary retreat, there’s much more to come, so keep coming back and see what there is to see as we get ready to survive the coming times.

Since I’ve been looking at the threat of a dirty bomb attack as a real, and having high probability of occurrence I thought I would look at what may be the only widely available medical treatment for radiation contamination to a human. Potassium Iodide, KI, is a salt, white in color that is widely available without prescription. Fairly inexpensive, many of the preparedness houses carry these tablets as part of their regular stock.

For instance, Emergency Essentials sells a package of 14 130mg tablets for $10.95 in their latest mailing. That is quite affordable considering the level of protection they provide, as long as you actually need that protection. But you don’t always need it in a radiological attack or event.

KI will only protect the Thyroid from radioactive Iodine, or more specifically, Iodine-131. There are other uses by way of medical treatments with KI, and many people should not take this substance for a number of reasons, so, even though it is available without a prescription you should consult a medical professional regarding your questions before stocking up on these tablets. There seems to be some idea floating around that KI will protect you in all radioactive fallout incidents. This is not the case as most events will probably not create the environment to allow for the generation of fissionable materials that would result in the fallout containing Iodine-131.

Nuclear reactor failures and high yield warheads are about the only situations where this situation will be the result. Dirty bombs and mislaid scrap product will not have any risk of Iodine-131, but they will have, or emit other equally dangerous radioactive elements. If a warning goes out indicating a radiation release from a reactor near you, you may be advised to take KI as a precaution.

Wanting to provide some acceptable facts, I copied these FAQs from the FDA The NRC and the CDC also provide their own FAQs, which are identical to these;

Frequently Asked Questions on Potassium Iodide (KI)

In December 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final Guidance on Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies1. The objective of the document is to provide guidance to other Federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and to state and local governments regarding the safe and effective use of potassium iodide (KI) as an adjunct to other public health protective measures in the event that radioactive iodine is released into the environment. The adoption and implementation of the recommendations are at the discretion of the state and local governments responsible for developing regional emergency-response plans related to radiation emergencies. The recommendations in the guidance address KI dosage and the projected radiation exposure at which the drug should be used. This guidance updates FDA’s 1982 recommendations.

1.  What does potassium iodide (KI) do?

The effectiveness of KI as a specific blocker of thyroid radioiodine uptake is well established. When administered in the recommended dose, KI is effective in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in individuals or populations at risk for inhalation or ingestion of radioiodines. KI floods the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine and prevents the uptake of the radioactive molecules, which are subsequently excreted in the urine.

2.  Can potassium iodide (KI) be used to protect against radiation from bombs other than radioactive iodine?

Potassium iodide (KI) works only to prevent the thyroid from uptaking radioactive iodine. It is not a general radioprotective agent.

3.  Who really needs to take potassium iodide (KI) after a nuclear radiation release?

The FDA guidance prioritizes groups based on age, which primarily determines risk for radioiodine-induced thyroid cancer.  Those at highest risk are infants and children, as well as pregnant and nursing females, and the recommendation is to treat them at the lowest threshold (with respect to predicted radioactive dose to the thyroid).  Anyone over age 18 and up to age 40 should be treated at a slightly higher threshold.  Finally, anyone over 40 should be treated with KI only if the predicted exposure is high enough to destroy the thyroid and induce lifelong hypothyroidism (thyroid deficiency).

4.  What potassium iodide (KI) products are currently available? 

As of January 2005, Iosat, ThyroSafe, and ThyroShield are FDA approved KI products. You can find out more about these products at Drugs@FDA2. Please be aware that only the KI products approved by FDA may be legally marketed in the United States.

5.  How are these products available?

(This section lists sources that KI could be obtained from by the general public. Please visit FDA the site for the list. Not having checked these retailers for accuracy or viability as a competent source, I cannot vouch for them here. D.L. Soucy)

6.  What dosages of potassium iodide (KI) should be taken for specific exposure levels?

Exposures greater than 5 cGy:   
    Birth through 1 mo.  – 16 mg.
    1 mo. through 3 yrs.  – 32 mg.
    3 yrs through 18 yrs.  – 65 mg. (Adolescents>150 pounds should take adult dose.)

Exposures greater than 10 cGy: 
    18 yrs through 40 yrs. – 130 mg

Exposures greater than 500 cGy: 
    Adults over 40 yrs – 130 mg.

7.  How long should potassium iodide (KI) be taken?

Since KI protects for approximately 24 hours, it should be dosed daily until the risk no longer exists.  Priority with regard to evacuation and sheltering should be given to pregnant females and neonates because of the potential for KI to suppress thyroid function in the fetus and neonate.  Unless other protective measures are not available, we do not recommend repeat dosing in pregnant females and neonates.

8.  Who should not take potassium iodide (KI) or have restricted use?

Persons with known iodine sensitivity should avoid KI, as should individuals with dermatitis herpetiformis and hypocomplementemic vasculitis, extremely rare conditions associated with an increased risk of iodine hypersensitivity. Individuals with multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, and autoimmune thyroiditis should be treated with caution — especially if dosing extends beyond a few days.

9.  What are the possible risks and side effects of taking potassium iodide (KI)?

Thyroidal side effects of KI at recommended doses rarely occur in iodine-sufficient populations such as the U.S. As a rule, the risk of thyroidal side effects is related to dose and to the presence of underlying thyroid disease (e.g., goiter, thyroiditis, Graves’).  FDA recommends adherence to the Guidance on Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies7 for intervention threshold and dose, though we recognize that the exigencies of any particular emergency situation may mandate deviations from those recommendations. With that in mind, it should be understood that as a general rule, the risks of KI are far outweighed by the benefits with regard to prevention of thyroid cancer in susceptible individuals.

10.  Should I check with my doctor first?

Potassium iodide (KI) is available over-the-counter (OTC).  However, if you have any health concerns or questions, you should check with your doctor.

11. As a doctor, should I be recommending potassium iodide (KI) for my patients who request it?

As with any drug, physicians should understand the risks and benefits of KI before recommending it or prescribing it to patients. We recommend that physicians read our guidance for more information. It is available on the FDA Drug Guidances8 web page, under procedural guidance #18. The FDA guidance discusses the rationale and methods of safe and effective use of KI in radiation emergencies. It specifically addresses threshold predicted thyroid radioiodine exposure for intervention and dosing by age group. The recommendations for intervention are based on categories of risk for thyroid cancer, with the young prioritized because of increased sensitivity to the carcinogenic effects of radioiodine.

12.  Should I go out and buy potassium iodide (KI) to keep on hand?

KI works best if used within 3-4 hours of exposure. Although FDA has not made specific recommendations for individual purchase or use of KI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has contracted to purchase KI for states with nuclear reactors and states that have population within the 10-mile emergency planning zone, e.g., Delaware or West Virginia.

13.  How do I know that potassium iodide (KI) will be available in case of an emergency?

FDA will continue to work with interested pharmaceutical manufacturers to assure that high quality, safe, and effective KI products are available for purchase by consumers, by state and local authorities, and by federal government agencies electing to do so.